A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
There is an old saying about laughter being one of the best forms of medicine. I spent much of my time last week learning just how powerful a tool laughter can be in one’s life. It puts a group of anxious students at ease, and it allows us to see the positives in the worst of situations.
Yet, we are often afraid to laugh at ourselves, to look at our situations and find simple humor in them. Instead, we often live our lives, and endure our situations and circumstances with such seriousness and angst, believing that if we allow ourselves to laugh, we may diminish the magnitude of our strife.
However, God wants us to laugh. He wants us to find humor in the daily toils of our days. He wants us to find joy in our circumstances, our shortcomings, our failures. Let me make a note, though. Laughter for joy’s sake is not the same as ridicule. This is where we often get confused. Humor and laughter that is pleasing to God is not Jimmy Fallon or Jay Leno type stuff…don’t get me wrong, they are funny guys, but they pick on and poke fun at other people, while the type of laughter God enjoys is the ability to laugh at ourselves, and not to take everything so serious.
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was a woman who had learned to laugh at her circumstances. If we examine the reaction she had to God’s will for her life, she laughed at the idea of having a baby at her age: “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about me will laugh” (Genesis 21:6). Laughter was the way Sarah was able to deal with the struggles she had in her life, that she even named her Isaac, whose very name means “he laughs.” So, certainly, laughing at ourselves must be alright with God.
While Sarah demonstrates the importance of laughing and finding joy in those things that seem impossible in life, the story of Job teaches how to laugh in the midst of the toughest of stuff life has to offer.
“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21
Job, a man who lost his family, his health, and so much more was able to still find joy and laughter in his sorrow. So certainly, God believes it is alright to laugh.
So, this is what I do. I laugh. When I have had a tough afternoon at home, and feel like I am about to come undone with stress, I take a look at what is going on around me and laugh. When I have traveled with a screaming child who is upset because we took one stop too many, or we had to change plans at the last minute, I look at my husband and laugh. And on the days when my body is stricken with pain, and I can barely move, I don’t cringe at the weight of it, I joke about it and laugh, because joy and laughter is much better medicine than sorrow and self-pity!
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come” Proverbs 31:25
Laughter does not mean we are weak or uncaring, or that we don’t understand just how painful life can be. Instead, laughter is a tool given to us by God to clothe us in strength and dignity, to remind us that joy will come in the morning, and to defeat the enemy that wants us to drown in self-pity.
Let’s defeat the enemy. Let’s lighten up and laugh a little bit! It really will make you feel better….just ask this kid!